Ph.D. Position in Marine Ecology/Geoscience
University of St Andrews and University of Bangor
Investigation of the biological mediation of fine sediment erosion by microbial polymers
Ph.D. Tied-student to the NERC COHBED project: (NERC Ref NE/10248X/1)
Start: Jan-March 2012 End: 31/05/2016
Prof David M. Paterson (St Andrews University)
Dr Jaco Baas (Bangor University)
The influence of biological processes on the erosional behaviour of natural sediments has been recognised for years (1-9) but most published work only provides information on the relative effects of specific assemblages at individual sites and times.
This Ph.D. project will examine the spatial and temporal variability of one of the major drivers of biotic sediment stabilisation; the long-chain extracellular organic compounds, known collectively as EPS (extracellular polymeric substances) secreted in sediments by microalgae, cyanobacteria and bacteria. This EPS affects the erosive behaviour of a wide range of natural cohesive sediments and is also influential in fine non-cohesive and mixed sediments. However, EPS is highly variable in content and longevity. The turnover of EPS will be influenced by production and breakdown rates which are influenced by local environment and EPS composition.
This Ph.D. study is part of the wider NERC-funded COHBED project (Realistic Sedimentary Bedform Prediction: Incorporating Physical and Biological Cohesion) and will enhance the main project by adding contextual information on EPS distribution and behaviour which is poorly understood and beyond the scope of the main award. All required equipment (laboratory and field flumes, CSM, MagPI) is available in St Andrews where the studentship will be based.
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